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Concerns about development of young footballers

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Fri Oct 17, 2014

Editor: U-20 Caribbean Football Union finals came to an end on September 19, 2014, with Trinidad as champions, Haiti second, Cuba third and Aruba fourth. They will join host country Jamaica come January 2015 to compete with the USA, Canada and Mexico (from North America), Panama, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador (from Central America), to decide which teams will go to the U-20 World Cup Finals in New Zealand.{{more}}

Surprisingly, Aruba drew with Grenada, and beat Dominica to top its group. They then beat St Kitts/Nevis and the Dominican Republic to secure fourth place. This shows the performance of the OECS teams has declined, rather than improved with all the technical assistance and funding from FIFA. Or are they just participating so they can claim FIFA funding?

Looking at the finals held in Trinidad led me to reflect on SVG’s U-20 team. Players 16 to 19 years old are expected to represent the nation at U-20 tournaments. Their soccer education comprises physical, technical, tactical and psychological preparation. This cannot be achieved in the two months before the team is scheduled to compete.

Players’ skills are developed at both school and club level, and through attending coaching clinics. This hardly ever happens, so there is an urgent need for a specially designed programme to be implemented as soon as possible so that we can see an improvement in the team’s performance at the next tournament.

There are no organized soccer clubs; however, there are teams that participate in the various community tournaments. This results in the current level of sports education in SVG being limited. This does NOT get better overnight, nor is it an immediate progression as soon as young players join the national squad.

Football supporters can do more to encourage young players to attend practice regularly, and to cut out counter-productive activities such as idling, smoking and drinking alcohol. These activities can be put aside in order to achieve positive performances.

Over the years, hundreds of persons have participated in coaching courses, many of whom support the executive. However, instead of focusing on developing the sport, the executive is thinking ahead to the next election.

Many persons who have the ability to coach refrain from doing so because they complain that not enough players attend practice. Even worse, those with coaching ability are turned off of doing so because those who provide teams with financial assistance dictate which players take part, and which ones do not – regardless of how skilled or disciplined players are.

For over 20 years, the SVGFF has been receiving financial and technical assistance from FIFA. Looking back on our teams’ past results and the selection of our officials (who serve at overseas tournaments) could lead one to believe that the financial and technical assistance being received is not being going to the right persons. This shows that the executive is not helping in educating its affiliates.

People are of the opinion that the executive does not make enough effort to get sufficient funding to send all the age groups to participate in tournaments, nor enough to cover the cost of said teams advancing through rounds should they win their matches. The executive should do all it can to help the teams prepare properly. It’s possible that one or two players will be recognised by an agent or talent scout in a preliminary round, which can give him or her the opportunity to go further in the sport. Additionally, this is why players need to become more involved in their own development.

At present, there seems to be no development programme in progress – at least, nothing that the country is aware of – to be able to contribute to its success. The executive cannot develop soccer on its own; those who elected its members should also assist, and encourage others to do the same.

Seymour ‘Rollit’ Walrond

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